In the wine world, pinot noir’s reputation is anything but easygoing: It’s a hard grape to grow and a hard wine to make. Shopping for it yields its own set of challenges, the biggest of which is that excellent pinot noir comes at a price.
Our recent Fortune tastings have unearthed a number of terrific pinots; what follows is a dozen of our favorites. The California selections here tend to be bigger and more fruit-forward, while most of the Oregon bottlings (and the one Kiwi offering) are marked by minerality, texture, and restraint. If you’re looking for a good, crowd-pleasing bottle, Rocholi, Penner-Ash and Chateau St. Jean are your best bets. If you’re a pinot-phile and want to geek out about clones and terroir with your tasting-group friends, bring a Brick House, Antica Terra, or the Shea Homer.
Pahlmeyer 2012 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast ($75) Pahlmeyer’s latest release is rich and velvety on the palate, with cascades of raspberry, black cherry, and caramel/vanilla aromas and flavors. At 14.9% alcohol it’s a very big pinot but it’s heady, provocative, and delicious.